Each year we kick off our season with a Time Trial Meet at the Fitch Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF) with a few goals in mind:

  • Ensure that we have good baseline times on every swimmer against which we can measure improvement and with which we can prepare our meet and relay entries
  • Ensure that everyone clearly understands how Seton Swimming operates at a Meet, particularly arriving on time, warming-up efficiently, showing great respect for the national anthem, getting behind the blocks in time for your events without assistance, and starting a race with the whistle rather than voice commands.
  • Gather data with which to make practice lane and coach assignments for each swimmer.
  • Ensure that we have all the parent volunteers and supplies that we need to run our meets

If those were the goals for our Time Trial meet on Friday, November 15th, then I would have to say that we were highly successful.  Not only did we accomplish those goals, but several swimmers made their presence known, especially several swimmers who are new to the team.  Watching the swimmers on Friday gave me a lot of faith in the future of Seton Swimming.

The make-up of our team has evolved dramatically over the past two (2) season, making it totally unique compared to others over my 18 previous years coaching Seton.  The Captains did another great job of recruiting this year!  We have 81 kids on the team, 35 of whom are in middle school.  Our team leadership is also as strong as it has ever been with 16 seniors.  What an opportunity this is going to be for us to teach kids the life lessons that come with a sport like swimming and to build up our program for another State Championship run in a few years.

I apologize for being so late with this first blog, but I have a really good excuse.  Colleen and my son, former Seton Swim Captain LTJG Brendan Koehr, deployed Monday with VFA-211, the FA-18 squadron out of Oceana, VA known as the Checkmates.  VFA-211 left Norfolk on the USS Harry S. Truman headed to the Middle East to replace the USS Abraham Lincoln.  He was home for the weekend along with several of his adult siblings.  We are very proud, as I’m sure you can all imagine.

A Coming Out Party for Some New Swimmers

One thing that invariably happens at Time Trials is that several new swimmers make their presence known with outstanding early season performances.  This year was no different:

  • Joe Wilson (FR) was the clear standout among our new swimmers on Friday. Even though is only a freshman, he is already one of the fastest kids on the team, finishing 2nd in 100 Back and 50 Fly, 4th in 100 Free and 5th in 100 Breast and 50 Free.  I think we are going to see Joe in some of our “A” Relays this year, and after we graduate the large number of senior boys, we’ll be seeing Joe and a team leader in the water.
  • John McGrath (JR) is new to Seton this year. Without a lot of past swimming experience, I can already see serious potential for John to make an impact on the Seton team.  I’m very excited to work with him on his stroke technique to see how fast he can become!
  • JJ Brox (FR) is on the team for the first time and made his presence known, particularly in breaststroke and freestyle.
  • Max Wilson (7) is only in 7th grade and not allowed to score this season, so normally I wouldn’t put him on a list like this – but after watching him swim, I simply had to. It’s his first year on the team, and he’s already practicing with the much bigger kids in Coach Ross’ lanes – and pushing all of them.  We have an embarrassment of riches with our middle school boys, so I can’t wait to add Max to the list of future Seton stars like David Hudson, Connor Koehr, Mick Fioramonti, Ryan Beltran, Liam Halisky, Peter Konstanty, Chris Lynch, and so many others.

Experienced Swimmers To Watch This Season

Every year, we have experienced swimmers who worked hard over the summer or joined a USA Swimming Club – or both – and start the season with a bang.  Here are some swimmers who swam on Friday that are going to be worth watching this year:

  • Mairead Geiran (JR) won every single event for the girls at Time Trials, and several of her times would have been very competitive in the boy’s heats. The girls can just go!  I’m so happy that she’s only a junior 😉
  • Shane Koehr (SR) only swam a couple of events because he had a fitness test for a Marine ROTC scholarship the next morning, but he made the most of his opportunities taking first place in 100 Back and 4th in a very competitive 50 Free.
  • Jacob Alsup (SR) has come back for his senior leaner and meaner than ever. His off-season work is already paying off with a .86 second PR in 100 Free and a .67 second PR in 50 Fly.  That 100 Free PR was particularly impressive because it is so early in the season.  It was also exciting for me to see that Jacob can swim all four (4) strokes really well.
  • Jerry Dalrymple (JR) has come back with his trademark determination. That determination really showed every time he hit the water, but particularly in his first-place finishes in 100 Free and 50 Fly.  His 50 Fly was also a .17 second PR.
  • Liam Kellogg (JR) is going to score a lot of points for us this season in middle distance freestyle, sprint freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. I can wait to work with Liam on Fly because I think he could be good in the IM also.
  • Anne Konstanty (SR) is back, and she’s already showing she is much more than a 500 Freestyler. Not only did she swim PRs in 100 Back (by 5.30 seconds), in 50 Fly (by 1.87 seconds) and in 100 Free (by .54 seconds), but she swam the 2nd fastest 100 Breaststroke on the team!
  • Isabelle Luevano (SO) finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th in every event, including a 2.05 second PR in 100 Back and a .79 second PR in 50 Fly. Her performance showed how she’ll be giving me several options for our girls relays this season.
  • Mary Pennefather (FR) returns as one of our premier sprinters, but I was most excited to see her progress in other events, particularly backstroke (1.28 second PR) and 200 Free (13.22 second PR).
  • Evan Wilson (JR) rocked his 100 Free, going 58.39 and dropping 2.19 seconds from his previous best. Evan also dropped .10 seconds in 50 Free.  He’s swimming with Coach Mulhern, and is working hard to make an impact.
  • Nathan Luevano (FR) is only a Freshman, but it is clear he will be one of our top scorers this coming season. Nathan swam big PRs in every single event.  Among those impressive swims, the most impressive was his 5.06 second PR in 100 Breast which resulted in the fastest time on the team!  Nathan also dropped 4.20 seconds in 100 Free, 3.10 seconds in 50 Fly, 2.56 seconds in 100 Back and 1.99 seconds in 50 Free.  Wow!
  • Justin Fioramonti (SR) just came off a stellar performance as a mid-fielder for Seton’s State Runner-up soccer team, and continued his great work with a 1.90 second PR in 50 Fly on Friday night.
  • Christian Ceol (SR) only swam a couple 50s since he had a fitness test for a Marine ROTC scholarship the next morning, but that was enough for him to hit a big 1.26 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • David Hudson (8) is not normally what I would call an “experienced” swimmer, but he’s going to score so many points for Seton this season, but I have to include him in this list. He had some huge drops that have his times down in the competitive range for high schoolers including an 8.16 second PR in 100 Free, a 6.75 second PR in 100 Breast, a 6.17 second PR in 50 Fly  and a 3.91 second PR in 100 Back.  I’ve got my eye on you David!
  • Caroline Griffin (SR) didn’t swim on Friday night, but I’m looking forward to having her leadership on deck and in the water for our team, including a National Catholic and State teams.

Welcome Back!

Every year, we seem to have kids who previously swam on the team but took a break come back to join us for their senior year:

  • Drew Dalrymple (SR) surprised a lot of people on Friday night with some serious strength in the sprints. After a year at St. Gregory’s where he clearly found a weight room, he surprised everyone with his 56.76 early-season time in 100 Free, .06 seconds than his previous best.  Drew also beat everyone on the team in 50 Free.
  • Katie Albin (SR) is back after a one-year hiatus and that excites me greatly. I can see already that she is going to be a regular scorer for us, particularly in Breaststroke and Backstroke.
  • Joey Arnold (SR) rocked! He last swam on the team as an 8th grader, so it was no surprise that he swam a PR in all five (5) events.  What was a surprise was how strong he looks in the water now, particularly in Butterfly.  I can’t wait to get to Fly in practice to help him refine his stroke further – then I’ll be looking for even more great things from Joey.
  • Virginia Hartung (JR) is also back after a one-year hiatus, and she’s already showing improvement. She had five (5) PRs including in 200 FR by 14.55 seconds, in 100 Back by 4.25 seconds, in 50 Fly by 3.13 seconds, in 100 Breast by 1.93 seconds, and in 100 Free by 1.13 seconds.
  • Kathleen O’Malley (SR) last swam with us as a Freshman, so I was very excited to see her back on deck for her senior year. She’s only been in a water a couple times so far, so I’m looking forward to working with Kathleen to help her have a joyful senior season.
  • Dominick Tolentino (SR) started with us last season, and now is back for his senior season. I love the enthusiasm I see from “CK”.  I also loved to see several big PRs include an 18.10 second PR in 100 Back, a 6.80 second PR in 100 Free and a 5.84 second PR in 50 Free.

103 Personal Records Already!

Our team’s core values, or GEMs, are Gratitude, Excellence, Meekness and Sacrifice.   The second GEM is Excellence, which has nothing to do with how good you are – it has everything to do with how much better you are.  Over the years, I have noticed that, if we all get better, the winning seems to take care of itself.

From our first practice until Christmas, we will use large chunks of our practice time to build every stroke and every wall from scratch.  With the delay in when we have our time trials, we’ve gotten to the point we have largely covered freestyle already – and boy did we see the results of our work!

As you will see throughout the season, I will meticulously track Personal Records or “PRs” (i.e. Best Times) for each swimmer.  That is why seeing new swimmers at Time Trials is so important – to get a PR, you have to have a time from which to improve.

It is nearly impossible to write a blog each week that mentions 81 swimmers, but one thing I will commit to – if you swim a PR, you are going to get highlighted.  So, here are the swimmers not previously mentioned who swam at least one PR:

  • Patrick Hartung (FR) was stunning! I almost can’t believe how much faster he is swimming than his previous best times this season.  He went 16.48 seconds faster in 100 Breast, 10.89 seconds faster in 50 Fly, 9.78 seconds faster in 100 Back, and 7.41 seconds faster in 100 Free.
  • Ryan Beltran (8) spent the final part of last season fighting injury, but he sure looks healthy now. He already hit three big PRs: by 5.42 seconds in 100 Back, by 4.63 seconds in 100 Free and by 4.03 seconds in 100 Breast.
  • Teresa Bingham (SO) smiled her way to two substantial PRs including a 2.49 second PR in 100 Back and a 1.64 second PR in 100 Breast.
  • Aaron “A-Ron” Bishop (8) is back for another year, which makes me very happy. What made me even happier was his 5.36 second PR in 100 Back, his 3.92 second PR in 100 Free, and his 2.71 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Lily Byers (SO) is looking good in practice and that extended to Time Trials. Her 6.49 second PR in 100 Back was impressive, but after watching her last week, I think that is just the beginning for her as she continues to improve her stroke technique.  Lily also swam a 1.31 second PR in 100 Breast.
  • Emma Catabui (SO) was very impressive to me on Friday night, particularly her 57.78 second PR in 200 Free! She also had huge PRs in 100 Free (by 9.55 seconds) and 100 Back (by 7.36 seconds)
  • Jack Champney (8) continues the big improvements he saw last season with a 63.26 second PR in 100 Breast, a 17.50 second PR in 100 Free, and a 9.86 second PR in 100 Back. Those are big Jack!
  • Joey Dealey (FR) has grown taller since last season, and combined with his early-season work in practice has Joey swimming faster than ever. I loved watching his 6.55 second PR in 100 Breast, his 5.46 second PR in 100 Back, his .74 second PR in 100 Free, and his .45 second PR in 50 Free.
  • Elizabeth Dwane (SO) continues to improve. It was fun to watch her 4.03 second PR in 100 Back and her 3.50 second PR in 100 Free.
  • Theresa Dwane (SR) had a strong early season performance in all of her events, particularly with her .20 second PR in 100 Back.
  • Maggie Gibbons (8) is reaching some pretty impressive times for an 8th grader, particularly after her 5.97 second PR in 100 Free. Maggie also had a 13.34 second PR in 200 Free, an 8.06 second PR in 100 Breast and a 4.00 second PR in 50 Fly.
  • Moira Haggerty (FR) continued her nearly unbroken streak of meets with a Personal Record. How about her 16.77 second PR in 50 Fly, her 3.41 second PR in 100 Breast and her 1.08 second PR in 200 Free?!
  • Ceili Koehr (SO) used her beautiful strokes to hit two (2) PRs. In 100 Free, she dropped 1.32 seconds and in 50 Fly, she dropped 2.31 seconds.
  • Connor Koehr (7) had a number of huge drops on Friday night. His focus in practice is really paying off.  How about a 3.99 second PR in 100 Breast, a 3.33 second PR in 100 Free, a 3.04 second PR in 100 Back, a 1.14 second PR in 50 Fly and a 3.72 second PR in 200 Free?  That’s a lot of improvement!
  • Peter Konstanty (8) had huge PRs in 50 Fly by 8.60 seconds, in 100 Back by 6.26 seconds, and in 100 Free by 4.50 seconds.
  • Chris Lynch (8) showed major improvement with four (4) big PRs. Chris dropped 15.12 seconds in 100 Breast, 11.81 seconds in 100 Back, 8.43 seconds in 100 Free, and 6.23 seconds in 50 Fly.
  • Mary O’Malley (SO) showed improvement already by beating her previous best in 100 Back by 1.47 seconds and in 100 Free by 1.07 seconds.
  • Reagan Rose (SO) dropped incredible amounts of time on Friday night. Among her amazing drops was an 18.35 second drop in 100 Free, a 7.16 second drop in 100 Back, and a 2.51 second drop in 100 Breast.  Great job Reagan!
  • Clare Waldron (SO) showed the results of her work at the end of last season and early this season. How about a big 10.26 second drop in 50 Fly?  Or a 7.06 second drop in 100 Back and a 4.30 second drop in 100 Free?  Nice work Mary Clare!
  • Madelyn Zadnik (8) swam a PR in nearly every event. She cut 14.83 seconds from her 200 Free, 4.52 seconds from her 100 Back, 2.10 seconds from her 100 Breast, .31 seconds from her 100 Free, and .22 seconds from her 50 Fly.
  • Sophia Zadnik (SO) also added a lot of PRs to the family total including a 17.51 second PR in 200 Free, a 4.24 second PR in 100 Breast, a .89 second PR in 100 Free, and a .75 second PR in 50 Fly.

Other Strong Performances

Unless you’ve grown a lot since last season, it is generally very difficult to swim a PR this early in the season – we’re not even in shape yet.  So there were other swims that impressed me that were not necessarily PRs:

  • Mick Fioramonti (8) didn’t hit a PR this early in the season, but I definitely see him a key player on the team in the years to come. We have a very strong group of middle school boys, and Mick is part of that group.
  • Maddie Given (SO) has some excellent swims on Friday night. I was most impressed with her swim in 200 Free.
  • Catriona Linton (SO) looked strong in the water on Friday in all of her events. I’m excited about her potential this season as we work to further refine her stroke technique.

Swimmers Who Tackled the 200 Free

The vast majority of the new young swimmers on our team have never swum 200 yards for a time before, and many have never even swum 100 yards for a time before.  That can be quite intimidating, I know, but one thing I want all of us to learn is that we can almost always do more than we think we can do.

I was very proud of the swimmers who overcame their fear to get a time for these distances:

  • Jed Albin (7)
  • Chris Arnold (7)
  • Lucia Bingham (7)
  • Meg Blanchette (7)
  • Elodie Brox (7)
  • Michael Brox (7)
  • Lucy Cunningham (7)
  • Lauren Curley (SR)
  • Kyle Da Re (JR)
  • Joseph Dwane (7)
  • Haley Fifield (7)
  • Clare Flynn (8)
  • Amelia “Grandma” Geary (8)
  • Orla Haggerty (7)
  • Liam Halisky (7)
  • Peter Hartung (7)
  • Mary Catherine Hurley (7)
  • Seth Kellogg (7)
  • Teresa Kerlek (JR)
  • Michael McGrath (8)
  • Elena Morano (SR)
  • Shannon O’Malley (7)
  • Lucy Pennefather (7)
  • Cate Waldron (8)
  • Rose Waldron (7)

Things That Worked Quite Well

  • Captains – Once again, we have a very strong group of engaged Captains who are bringing our GEMS to life for everyone on the team. I was so pleased with Katie Dealey, Caroline Griffin, Anne Konstanty, Mairead Geiran, Shane Koehr, Christian Ceol, Jacob Alsup and Justin Fioramonti so far this season.
  • Volunteers – In the spirit of gratitude, I was pondering this morning how many high school swim teams could hold a Time Trials event like we did on Friday night. We had 5 coaches, a trained Starter and Referee, 3 other Stroke and Turn Judges, two Scorers running Meet Manager software, a Colorado Timing System Operator, an Announcer, a Nurse, a Physical Therapist, a Team Mom, a Pizza Mom, a Head Timer, and 24 lane timers – all volunteers and all from our parent base.  I think we can count the high school teams in the State of Virginia that are capable of delivering that sort of volunteer base on one finger.
  • National Anthem – As you heard, I take how our team demonstrates respect for the National Anthem very seriously. So I was very pleased about how seriously you all took the rehearsal of how we show that respect.   Thank you.
    • I thought you all might appreciate how our country used to celebrate the National Anthem. Click here for the opening ceremony for Super Bowl XXXIX, only 14 years ago.  Very powerful.
  • Almost No Events Missed – Unlike summer swimming, there is no mother running a clerk of course to make sure that you are all in the proper lane at the proper time. You are swimming on a high school swim team now, so we make the assumptions that you can get yourself to where you are supposed to be.  Our Starter waited for swimmers to get to the blocks every once in a while, that is true, but overall, I was pretty impressed with how well our young team was able to get themselves to where they were supposed to be, on time.
  • Notification by Missing Swimmers – We only had one swimmer miss the meet without telling me. That was really quite good compared to past years.  We didn’t have relays on Friday night, but if you were ever the one who had to rearrange the relays on deck right before the meet is about to start while 70 kids are floating around and asking questions, then I promise you, you would never fail to e-mail me if you or your kid cannot make it to a meet.  And please use e-mail – don’t just tell me.  Thank you for keeping me fully informed.

Opportunities to Improve

There were only two areas I saw on Friday night where I’d like to see improvement:

  • Cheering for Teammates – Seton Swimming is not an individual sport, so when you see someone fighting through their event to win, or even just to finish, then I’d like to see a mass of blue shirts at the end of their lane screaming like wild banshees. We had a couple opportunities for that on Friday night, and I was a little disappointed to see our swimmers just talking to their friends in, and out of, the team area.
    • One of our GEMS is “Sacrifice”, and that encompasses loving our teammates
    • And please don’t leave the deck and take a shower before all of your teammates are done swimming.   We didn’t practice it on Friday, but at the first meet on December 7th, the Captains will teach you how we do our post meet handshake.
  • Starting our Warm-up – When we start our warm-up with the five-minute continues swim, the goal is to have 8 or 10 simultaneous feet first splashes with each heat, including the last heats. Not only did we not jump in at the same time, we had three extra kids the same lane at the end while there were other lanes sitting empty.  Warming up with discipline will carrying on to the how we swim in the meet.

The First GEM, “Grateful”

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to share some words from Deacon Don Libera of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Warrenton:

This week offers us our first opportunity to put this into practice as we prepare for our Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday. In light of Thursday’s theme, maybe our focus, our theme during the coming weeks should be to have an attitude of gratitude. For indeed, when we are truly thankful, we are humbled because of the many blessings the Lord has bestowed on us.

When the spirit of gratitude is rooted in humility, it produces in us the fruit of authentic love, and becomes contagious. When we think about how gratitude works in our own lives, we know that when someone is sincerely grateful toward us for something that we did for them or gave to them, we are much more open to doing more for them.

When we see a spirit of generosity in our children, even when it is not directed toward us, we are more inclined to be more generous toward them. A spirit of gratitude and generosity in one person often causes the recipient to respond with gratitude and generosity. We bear God’s image in this. We imitate His unbounded generosity, His unbounded love for us. So how better to prepare

I really like how Deacon Libera talks about the chain reaction that occurs when we should gratitude.  Gratitude is contagious.  Let’s start an epidemic!

Final Notes

  • For this coming week, we’ll finish our work on backstroke – so don’t miss practice!
  • On New Year’s Eve, December 31st, we’ll have our annual Cystic-Fibrosis swim-a-thon. Thanks again to the Given family for running it again.  I’ll pass on more information shortly, but I can tell you now that I’m looking forward to repeating the successful team effort of last season to raise money for this great cause.

I have been so pleased to see so many of you on deck with me and the other coaches for morning practice.  Your smiles, your laughter and your desire to get better make it fun for me also.

See you Monday morning,

Coach Jim Koehr


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